Should I Still Have Mixed Emotions Five Years In?
I was of sound mind and body when we adopted Johannah, now 5. I’d just turned 51 and my husband, 57. We were late bloomers, marrying four years earlier—a first marriage for both of us. We wanted a family, but the doctors said my eggs were done. Multiple attempts at IVF failed.
So we considered the options and decided to pursue a domestic adoption. I reluctantly dyed my hair (to appeal to birth mothers) and slogged through the process. When, a long year later, we finally got the call saying a baby needed us, we hopped a plane to Michigan to meet the fussy 5-week-old who has become the love of my life. I picked her up and she calmed down. The photo of that day shows me grinning, deliriously happy.
But there are times when I feel sad that I had to wait so long to meet her. Was it best for her and for us?
Yes, I could go on about the joys from this adorable, clever creature who is too busy taking apart her new electric toothbrush to brush her teeth. Who confides her preference, like Daddy, for Barack Obama and the Redskins. Who knows (or fakes well) all the words to Mamma Mia!, which we sing on our long commute. Every. Single. Day.
But I sometimes worry about my age, my less-than-supple skin, my graying hair. The day care security guard once called me Grandma (I corrected him). At home, we’ve adjusted to “sit-down hugs” to spare our backs. My friends and cousins have kids graduating college, while I schedule play dates with parents decades younger than me. We share the common denominator of having silly, spirited 5-year-old kids, but we’re at different stages in our lives.
I also worry about the practical realities of aging. When Johannah is graduating college, her parents will be in their 70s. And she isn’t experiencing her extended family life the same way most of her classmates do.
She adores my dad, 85, who is her only living grandpa, and he delights in her—but he has Alzheimer’s, and the gibberish that sometimes accompanies his disease can be confusing to her.
My mom and Johannah are tight, but because Grandma has trouble releasing the car seat button and running after Johannah on the playground, they can’t enjoy the outings and sleepovers many of her peers have with their grandparents.
So, here we are five years later. Yes, there are joys. Yes, there are still frustrations and doubts. Yes, there is hair dye—rarely and reluctantly.
Thus, this blog was born. It’s a way to share my own ambivalence and highs and lows with others who may be in the same boat. And it’s an admittedly self-serving attempt to quiet the worries and find a community where I don’t feel quite so gray and conflicted.
Jodi Lipson is Director of the Book Division for AARP in Washington, D.C. She and another later-in-life mom colleague, Traci Lucien, are blogging about their experiences as older moms. Comments are welcome and encouraged, and kindred spirits are encouraged to join the brand-new Moms Over 50 Discussion Group.
Also of Interest
- Things Grandparents Thought They’d Never Do
- How Grandparents Can Help Grandchildren in Aftermath of Tragedy
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
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